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one; all their words couldn't put life into her sweet dead body. I would have gone up to see you at the Pond, but I can't get round as I used to before I was hamstrung on the Plains of Abram under General Wolfe. It's dreadful business, this killing people, it's agin nater; I followed it up a purpose, and have killed a good many in my day. Christ have marcy! If I had my desarts, I should have been hung long ago. Rum, too, is dreadful business, Molly; and I guess it had a good deal to do with that matter up to your house."
The Deacon was a great talker, and in modern parlance might have proved a bore, if his wife had not jogged him and said, “ The gal has not had any sleep for three nights, and I guess she had better try and see if she can't get some.” The bed was lowered, and Margaret laid upon it, where she was quiet, if she did not sleep, most of the afternoon. In the evening, Susan Morgridge came to see her. Susan's manner was calm, but her heart was warm and her sentiments generous. She told Margaret that nothing had been heard from Mr. Evelyn since his departure for Europe, and that Isabel Weeks was still at the Hospital, slowly recovering from a long fever that had succeeded the smallpox. But the absorbing topic was Chilion and the death of young Smith. Susan told Margaret there were some who would do all that could be done in the case, but that her father apprehended her brother could not be saved from the extremest penalty of the law. Margaret replied that the whole affair was to her own mind enveloped in mystery, that Chilion would reveal nothing to her, and that she had hardly equanimity enough to give the subject any cool reflection. Finally, for this seemed to be a part of her errand, Miss Morgridge proposed that Margaret should see Esq. Bowker, who she said was a valued friend of hers, and that he would be happy to do her any service in his power in the approaching crisis, and that gratuitously.
The moment the nine o'clock bell spent its last note, Deacon Ramsdill spread open a large book on his lap, put glasses on his nose, while his wife deliberately pulled off her glasses, drew out her needle from the sheath, and laid her knitting carefully aside. “I have got the Bible here," said the Deacon, “and we want to pray, — that is, if you can stand it. When you was here in the summer, you staid out so much we couldn't bring it about. I saw you once laughing at what was in the Book, and I took it away, because I knew you wasn't prepared for it, and hadn't got hold of the right end. Freelove and I have talked this matter over; and we know how it is with you; we know how you feel about these things up to the Pond. A hen frightened from her nest is hard to get back, and you was handled pretty roughly down here to meeting once. We mustn't give a babe strong meat, the Book says, and nater says so too; and folks that tend babies mustn't have pins about them. Then agin you can't wean babies in a day; it takes some time to get them from milk to meat. Praying, arter all, isn't a hard thing; it's nater. I used to pray when I was a boy, but I left it off in the Wars, and didn't begin agin till nater got the upper hands once more. I have seen the Indians pray up among
the Hurons, and they couldn't speak a word of English. It is speaking out what is inside here, it is sort o' feeling up. It comes easier as you go along, just as it is with the cows, the more they are milked the more they give. I hope, Molly, you won't feel bad about it. 'Tis time to reap when the grain is shrunk and yellow, and I think you ar'n't much out of the way of that; and it seems time to pray."
“I shall not feel bad,” replied Margaret ; " you are so good to me, and I love Christ now, and should be glad to hear anything he says."
The Deacon read from the Gospels, then with his wife knelt in prayer. Margaret, also, by some sympathetic or other impulse bowed herself down, - and for the first time in her life united in a prayer to the Supreme Being; and we cannot doubt the effect was salutary on her feelings. She slept that night in the other front room, where was the spare bed, with red and blue chintz curtains over square testers, and a floor neatly bespread with rag mats. The next morning she expressed great anxiety about her brother, said she wished either to see him, or have his violin conveyed to him.
“Things are a good deal stived up," answered the Deacon. “People's minds are sour, and I don't know, Molly, what we can do. It's nater you see, one doesn't like to have a son killed. Then the politicals are all out of kelter, one doesn't hardly know his own mind, and all are afraid of what is in another's. I suppose they won't allow you to go into the jail, they think you and your brother would brew mischief together, and perhaps he would break out. The building is old and slimsy. I am going to the barber's to be dressed, and I will take the fiddle along with me, and see how things look. But don't you stir out of the house; I am scrupulous about what might happen. It is no use reasoning with the people, any more than with a horse that is running away.'
The Deacon took the instrument under his surcoat, and went to the barber's, where the bi-weekly operation of shaving and powdering was performed. When he was alone with Tony, he propounded the wish of Margaret; to which the negro replied that he would do what he could. The same evening, Tony, with his own and the instrument of Chilion, presented himself to Mr. Shooks. “You know," said he, “that at the last ball, I couldn't play because my strings were broke, and the Indian is the very best man this side of York to fix them. And then this gentleman is learning a new jig, and he wants the Indian to try it with him.”
“You can't go in,” said Mr. Shooks. “We have got the rascal chained, and mean to keep him down. There is no trusting anybody nowadays. All the vagabonds in the country will rise, and have the government into their hands the next we know !"
“If Mister Shooks would permit this gentleman to bestow so much honor on him as to go into the prison, and take the Indian's fiddle, he would shave Mr. Shooks and powder him with the most patent new violet, crape and roll Miss Runy in the most fashionable etiquette, and give her an Anodyne Necklace, all for nothing, all for the honor of the thing."
“You may go in once,” replied Mr. Shooks, “but don't come again; and Tony," whispered the vigilant warden, “see if you can't find out if the villain means to break jail. I would not lose having him hung for a thousand pounds."
Tony being admitted, remained a short time with Chilion, left the violin and was summoned away.
The next day Esquire Bowker called on Margaret, informed her of the usages of Courts, and while he tendered his professional services in behalf of her brother as Counselor, he urged the necessity of a more complete acquaintance with the case than he then possessed; but Margaret replied that on all points she was as ignorant as himself.
That night, impatient of delay, anxious to approach nearer her brother, at a late hour when the streets were empty, she sallied out, and crossed the Green to the jail. Presently she heard the familiar voice of Chilion's music, proceeding from a low and remote corner of the building. Climbing a fence, and
reaching a spot as near the cell of her brother as the defenses of the place would permit, she again listened; then in the intervals she made sounds which she thought might be heard by her brother; but no token was returned; only she continued to hear low, sad, anguish notes that pierced her heart with lively distress. Dick, it appeared, had again followed her; perhaps in the midst of strangers he could abide her absence with less composure than ever; and soon she had him in her
He too heard the sound from the prison, the familiar tones of his Master; it required little urging on the part of Margaret to send him clambering over the palisade up the logs of the building he went, and into the cell of Chilion ; presently Margaret heard a changed note, one of recognition and gladness; soon also the creature came leaping back to her shoulder. Glad would she have been to leave him with her brother, but it would be unsafe for him to be found there; glad was she thus to communicate with the imprisoned one at all.
A new thought struck her; hastening back to the Deacon's, on a slip of paper she wrote to her brother, then returning to the jail, and fastening her billet to the body of Dick, she renewed her former experiment with success; she also sent in a pencil and paper for her brother. The next night pursuing this device, she had the satisfaction not only of transmitting solace to Chilion, but of receiving messages from him. This novel species of Independent Mail she employed the few nights that remained before the trial. On one point she could draw nothing from her brother -- that of his relation to the homicide. She kept within doors most of the day, and only ventured abroad under cover of midnight; she saw little or nothing of her own family; and heard nothing of Rose and Nimrod.
The day of the dreaded trial came at last. A true bill had been found against Chilion, and he stood arraigned on the charge of murder. Margaret heard the Court-bell ring, and her own heart vibrated with a more painful emphasis. Leaving her at the Deacon's, we will go to the Courthouse. The tribunal was organized with Judge Morgridge at the head of the bench. Chilion was brought in, his face never boasting great color or breadth, still paler and thinner from his confinement, and darkly shaded by a full head of long black hair. The right of challenge he showed no inclination to employ, and the panel was formed without delay.
To the indictment, charging, that “not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the insti. gation of the Devil, feloniously, willfully, and of his malice aforethought, he did assault, strike, and stab, Solomon Smith, thereby inflicting a mortal wound,” etc., the prisoner arose and pleaded not guilty; then sat down and threw his head forward on the front of the box; a position from which neither the attentions of his Counsel nor any interest of the trial could arouse him. The building was thronged with curious and anxious spectators from Livingston and the towns about. The examination of witnesses went on. The substance of the testimony was similar to that given before the Justice. It bore increasing proofs of a general belief in the guilt of the prisoner; first impressions had been corrected by subsequent reflection, doubts molded into conviction, and whatever was obscure rendered distinct and intelligible.
The counsel for the defense had but little to reply. Sibyl Radney believed the wound was inflicted by a piece of broken glass that fell with the table. This could not be. Esq. Bowker had applied the cross-examination; it seemed to elicit nothing. There was a question as to the intent of the accused, but the more this matter was pursued the darker it grew. There were plenty to testify to the utter malignity of the mind of the prisoner. Was the file thrown with purpose to kill, or only to injure? That made no difference; the Court ruling that death in either case was the same in the eye of the law. In addition to causes operating in the immediate neighborhood, the newspapers of the country came in filled with details of a “Shocking and Brutal Murder in Livingston,” and in one instance it was pertinently hinted that “the present afforded another opportunity for the exercise of Executive Clemency.” Obviously there was a clear conviction of the guilt of the prisoner in the public mind, and the testimony before the Court went far towards establishing the soundness of that feeling. Night closed the scenes and nearly finished the results of the trial.
After dark, Margaret, whose sensations during the day can as well be imagined as described, sought a breathing-place in the open air ; she walked towards the Green; but the shadows of men moving quickly to and fro, and echo of excited voices, drove her back. As she retreated, she was stopped by the sound of her own name; Pluck called after her, evidently moved by other than his ordinary stimulus.